Granular Matter

, 21:30 | Cite as

X-ray CT analysis of the evolution of ballast grain morphology along a Micro-Deval test: key role of the asperity scale

  • Ivan Deiros QuintanillaEmail author
  • Gaël Combe
  • Fabrice Emeriault
  • Charles Voivret
  • Jean-François Ferellec
Original Paper


Ballast grains in railway tracks progressively wear due to the efforts exerted by the continuous passage of trains and the periodic maintenance operations. The initial sharp edges and vertices of the grains tend to become smoother and the surface texture is removed. This change in morphology plays a key role on the proper behaviour of the ballast layer and, consequently, on the frequency maintenance required on the track. The object of this paper is to improve the understanding of the wear process by tracking the morphology of a sample of grains submitted to an accelerated ageing using the Micro-Deval standard test. To this goal, X-ray Computed Tomography is used to scan a sample of grains at different states of wear and the resulting images are compared using 3D image analysis. A description of morphology evolution at different scales is provided using scalar parameters and spherical harmonic analysis, proving that the general form is not significantly changed during a standard Micro-Deval test. Thus a detailed analysis at the asperity level is performed, showing the key role of the edge broadening and vertex smoothing phenomena on ballast wear.


Railway ballast X-ray CT Grain morphology Micro-Deval 



This work has been supported by the Lines, Track and Environment Department in Engineering and Projects of SNCF-Réseau and by the Laboratoire 3SR. Laboratoire 3SR is part of the LabEx Tec 21 (Investissements d’Avenir Grant Agreement Number ANR-11-LABX-0030).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Grenoble Alpes, 3SRGrenobleFrance
  2. 2.CNRS, 3SRGrenobleFrance
  3. 3.SNCF Réseau, Direction Ingénierie et ProjetsLa Plaine Saint-DenisFrance

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